I followed Hunter quietly to the porch. We were careful not to step on any of the spilled candy. I followed Hunter around the candy bowl that sprawled on its side. Hunter maneuvered so his head was looking through the open door while the rest of his body remained outside. I looked around the dark neighborhood. There were zombies around, but so far none of them had noticed us. They shambled aimlessly on neighboring lawns.
The children watched us intently from inside the van. Victory sat behind the wheel. Mackenzie sat in the front passenger seat with the youngest child on her lap. Arthur, Molly and the other boy watched us from between the front seats.
Hunter stepped inside moving slow so as not to make noise. I followed him. Inside the living room the television was still on. There was a reporter on the screen. Her hair was askew and she trembled slightly as she said, “…on repeat. You are instructed to stay in doors. Stay away from anyone acting strangely or anyone who has been bitten . . .”
There was a broken table lamp on the floor and a blood trail that led to the kitchen. The kitchen light was on. Hunter and I exchanged a glance. I readied the ax. He readied the bow and arrow.
When we entered the kitchen, it was clear a struggle had taken place. A block of knives had been scattered on the floor and there were shards of a broken glass. Arthur’s father was by the kitchen island and the scattered knives. There was a large kitchen knife stuck in his head. Blood pooled on the floor all around him.
Hunter relaxed the bow and arrow and picked up a large kitchen knife that the blood hadn’t touched yet even though he still had his hunting knife strapped to his leg. We silently made our way around the other side of the island avoiding the blood and broken glass. Arthur’s mom sat on the kitchen floor with her back propped up against the cupboards. Arthur’s little brother sat in her lap. Her arms were loose around him. Her eyes stared at nothing. Her hair was a mess, her makeup was smudged and her clothes were askew. There were a few child sized chunks taken out of her neck.
It looked like she killed her husband, but couldn’t bring herself to kill her son. Instead, it appeared she held him while he bit her.
We stopped when we saw the scene. We exchanged a glance. I tried to ask him with my motions if we should kill them or just quietly back out and leave them be.
He shrugged a shoulder. He looked back at the child zombie and mother zombie. He turned back to me and motioned we should go back to the cars, but it was at this moment that the mother zombie turned her eyes to us. Her pupils had that eerie green over them.
She sprang to her feet with no care for the child zombie in her arms. She moaned high and loud as if to let all the other zombies around know we were here. She ran at Hunter with her arms outstretched and her lips pulled back. Her jaw opened wide to take a bite.
The child zombie sprang to his feet and also moaned, but his was lower and quieter. He charged at me with his short legs and his small child arms. My heart dropped. This was Arthur’s little brother. This was Aaron. I had seen him walk down the street with his family, play in the nearby park, laugh and joke with Arthur and the other kids.
I placed my hand on his head when he got close to keep his snapping jaws at a distance.
Hunter held zombie mom back with the bow with one hand while the other brought the knife hard into the top of her head. She crumbled to the floor. Red poured out onto the floor and darkened Hunter’s knife. Hunter wiped the knife on on the back of her shirt and saw my hesitation.
“It isn’t a child,” he told me.
He was right and I knew it, but still, the zombie was small. He had once been Arthur’s cute, little brother. His tiny hands fisted around the cloth of my pants, but his mouth couldn’t get close enough to bite me.
Hunter made the decision for me as he drove the knife into the back of his head. The child zombie fell next to his parents. “Your ax was akward in this position anyway,” Hunter tried to console me.
I nodded my head and tried to convince myself that was why I hesitated instead of the fact that the small zombie had once been a child.
There was a shuffle at the front door. Hunter and I froze. He put one finger to his lips urging me to be silent, but I didn’t have any intention to suddenly start talking. He peeked around the wall towards the front door.
There was a low moan that sent chills along my spine. Hunter immediately pulled back into the kitchen and motioned towards the back door that went out from the side of the kitchen.
Just as I took a step to go to the back door, I heard a higher pitch moan coming from the living room and the sounds of many shuffling feet. It seemed like the mother zombie’s moan really had attracted other zombies.
Hunter followed me to the back door. I tried to open it, but the handle wouldn’t turn. A male zombie shambled into the kitchen. His eyes didn’t waver from us. His low moan grew louder. He ran straight at us, but got hung up on the kitchen island. There were several answering moans from the living room.
I unlocked the deadbolt and this time the door opened. I rushed out into the night and almost ran straight into a zombie. He was about Mackenzie’s age, but I didn’t hesitate this time as I brought the ax down hard on top of his head. It broke through the skull and squished in the brain. I pulled back hard and withdrew it just as Hunter pulled the door closed behind us. Blood dripped from my ax and spurted from the dead boy’s head.
The pounding started on the inside of the door. We were alone in the backyard. I bent low and wiped the ax silently on the grass. I got most of the blood and brain matter off, but not all of it.
We made our way as quietly as we could to the fence that led to the front yard. There were many moans from inside the house now. Hunter and I looked carefully over the fence. A zombie walked through the open front door. The front yard was empty. There were three zombies pounding on the passenger side windows of the van.
Even from this distance I could hear the crying of the youngest Bahena brother. Hunter easily hopped the fence and motioned for me to do the same. I did so, but less gracefully.
Hunter motioned for Victory to leave. Victory didn’t see him, but Mackenzie did and she slapped Victory in the arm. When Victory looked at her, she pointed to Hunter. Victory finally saw and pulled out. She ran over one of the zombies in the process, but didn’t stop.
Hunter hopped up onto the porch and quietly closed the front door shutting a large group of zombies inside while I continued to run to my car. Luckily the zombies that had just been there followed the van and the kids so I was able to slide into the driver’s side without a problem. I tried to close the door quietly, but it still made a noise. The two zombies that had been chasing the van turned and ran to my hatchback.
Hunter ran across the lawn, opened the passenger door and hopped in just as the zombies began to pound on the rear window. I turned the car on, shifted it into reverse and ran over both zombies. I really hoped this wasn’t causing a lot of damage to the car. The van drove slowly ahead of us. I swerved around them and led the way to the party where Maria was trapped.
I slowed down when we passed the high school. Hunter and I exchanged a quick glance when we saw the person with the spray paint. There weren’t any zombies around, but there was a hooded figure that just finished the question mark. He ran away as quickly as he could once it was done.
Spray painted on the school in bright yellow was the phrase RU in?